This was posted by a friend of mine online. She’d been suffering from massive headaches and was throwing up, and knew we had several nurses in our group and was wondering how urgent it was that she get to the doctor (very). Nope, she hadn’t eaten jelly beans or wasabi sauce. This was stress, pure and simple stress, wearing down a body that is simply not created to handle the amount of stress that living our lives creates.
We may know the mantra: self-care, self-care, self-care. But how do we get self-care when we have to have line of sight supervision for a child? How do we get self-care when we can’t even pee alone, much less meditate or relax? Self-care, you say? How about a full night’s sleep without an alarm going off?
These are the things that aren’t the brochure we were handed, the one filled with sad looking children who just “need a family to love.” This was not in the fine print at the bottom somewhere that you missed when you signed the dotted line. Not only was it not in the brochure, it will be declared your fault that these issues even exist (if they are acknowledged at all) by the very agency that provided with said children. “You just need to raise your fear threshold,” your social worker tells you, as you cry over the phone, begging for help in knowing what to do when one sibling is bound and determined to literally murder another, as you sit in the ER watching the child get stitches from the baseball bat his sister had decided to use for a weapon this time (stolen from a neighbor’s garage). “You’re too strict with them. Let them be kids,” you’re told. “All kids do that stuff.”
So, it wasn’t in the brochure, and the very people that promised us all the support and help we needed after adoption disappeared into thin air as soon as the dotted line was signed. Now what? You’re on your own. You are, but you aren’t. Finding a network of other families who understand is critical. Sometimes online is enough, to vent, to cry, to share stories that would horrify “regular” parents. But sometimes, we need a break. An honest-to-goodness, no alarms on the doors, no line of sight supervision, break. My friend is the perfect example of what will happen to us if we don’t.
So network, peeps. Switch kids once a month, get at least one night of rest. If you have NT kids as well, farm them out to friends and family for a few days and let your trauma kid be with those that understand. It takes a village to raise a kid, is the saying. It’s going to take more than a parent or a couple to survive raising these kids. The only thing we have is each other, right now. While some of us have the time and energy to fight for more resources, to fight for respite places, qualified providers, money money money for these things, we are, knowing the rest of you can’t even breathe, much less write a well thought out and organized, detailed letter to your congressman. We are fighting, not just for our own family, but for all of us. In the meantime – we need to lean on each other. Yes, the stress will come back, the headaches will continue – but maybe with just that little bit of time off, it won’t be so bad. And maybe with the promise of getting time off again, we can make it through til then.
Hang in there, peeps.